| | Attacking Limiting Factors: Hips

Author / Christopher McQuilkin

Hip-abductors-adductorsWe at Power Athlete toss the term ‘limiting factor’ around a lot; especially in articles regarding mobility, warm ups, and especially, performance.  A limiting factor is something that affects growth, development, or performance for an athlete, and can range from physical, mental and even emotional limitations.

At the CrossFit Football Coach’s Seminar, we introduce an array of diagnostic tools that help attendee’s feel and identify their own limiting factors.  The assessments most often struggled with are those that take them out of their sagittal plane comfort zone, and through the transverse and frontal planes.  Moving their hips through these seemingly ‘new’ planes of motion with no resistance is more challenging than the ‘Blaster’ test day 1 of the seminar.planes-of-motion-and-axis-of-rotationIgnoring limiting factors leads to imbalances, and imbalances lead to injuries.  Far too many of the injuries I’ve witness in my lacrosse and coaching career are to the ankle or hip, especially the groin.  Two pieces critical for moving seamless and effortlessly through space.

The hip is one of the most mobile joints in the body. But, unlike the shoulder, it is very stable as a result of the bone structure and amount of musculature surrounding the joint. These muscles provide dynamic stability to joints when actively contract. Without this active tension, via contraction, muscles provide minimal stability.

Without realizing it, many strength coaches overload and overuse movements through the sagittal plane.  As a result, exercise imbalances have arisen for not only their field sport athletes, but also gen-pop clients.  When these athletes are faced with a task that requires the hip to move through an unfamiliar plane of movement, bad things can happen.

Luke-Summers-Power-Athlete-CrossFit-FootballThe freedom of action of the hip joints extends so much farther than mobility and stability gained in the squat and olympic lifts!  Whether preparing a field sport athlete for competition or improving a gen-pop client’s major lifts, preparing and strengthening the stabilizers of the hips through each plane of motion will improve performance.

Using the 4-Way Physio-Board as a tool, we will provide key movements to prepare for movement through all planes, attack limiting factors and imbalances, and assist in kinetic realignment of the athletic position.[s2If !current_user_can(access_s2member_level1)]

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Hip Exercises:
[vimeo]https://vimeo.com/100738116[/vimeo]Resisted Hip Internal Rotation

Muscles involved:
Gracilis, Semitendinosus, Semimembranosus

Purpose:
Often neglected because of either ignorance or misinformation, the internal rotators are crucial for proper alignment of the lower extremity to reduce force bleed and prevent ankle, knee and hip injuries.  Overworking the external rotators lengthens these to the point of a mechanical disadvantage that is difficult to overcome and often leads to injury.  Internal rotation through the transverse plane is critical for positioning of the hip for sprinting and especially, change of direction.

Execution:

  • Attach the bands on the OUTSIDE hooks. Lie flat on your back, lock your quads and dorsiflex your feet.
  • Think Deadbug on the ground, paint your lower back on the ground and suck your belly button through your spine.
  • Move through the full ROM of external rotation to internal rotation, but avoid relaxing at external rotation.
  • This movement should be steady and controlled, and should only come from the hips. There should be no flexion/bend of the knees or hips, and avoid any inversion or eversion of the ankle.

[vimeo]https://vimeo.com/100737698[/vimeo]Resisted Hip External Rotation

Muscles involved:
Adductor brevis, Adductor magnus, Biceps Femoris, Gluteus medius: Posterior fibers, Gluteus Maximus
The Big 6: Piriformis, Gemellus superior, Gemellus inferior, Obturator externus, Obturator internus, Quadratus femoris

Purpose:
Controlled external rotation and stabilization of the Big 6. A training imbalance exists in majority of the athletes that have overloaded the sagittal plane in that their external rotators are too tight to stabilize and move through a full Int./Ext. ROM. This movement will help lengthen and strengthen these external rotators and make kinetic realignment a much easier task, and improve change of direction ability.

Execution:

  • Attach the bands on the INSIDE hooks. Lie flat on your back, lock your quads and dorsiflex your feet.
  • Think Deadbug on the ground, paint your lower back on the ground and suck your belly button through your spine.
  • Move through the full ROM of internal rotation to external rotation, but avoid relaxing at internal rotation.
  • This movement should be steady and controlled, and should only come from the hips. There should be no flexion/bend of the knees or hips, and avoid any inversion or eversion of the ankle.

[vimeo]https://vimeo.com/100736472[/vimeo]Resisted Hip Iso-Internal Rotation and Adduction w/ Dorsiflexion:

Muscles involved:
Gracilis, Semitendinosus, Semimembranosus, Gluteus Maximus: Upper Fibers, Gluteus Medius, Gluteus Minimus, Tensor fasciae latae, Sartoris

Purpose:
The internal rotators are forced into a stabilizing role for this movement, much like their role in jumping, landing and changing direction. This also develops and challenge proper knee and foot alignment by isolating the adductors, femoral internal rotators and the medial aspect of the hamstrings and extended hip.

Execution:

  • Attach the bands on the OUTSIDE hooks. Lie flat on your back, lock your quads and dorsiflex your feet.
  • Think Deadbug on the ground, paint your lower back on the ground and suck your belly button through your spine.
  • Maintaining dorsiflexion, internally rotate at the hips and begin at the point where there is tension in the band.
  • Maintaining both dorsiflexion and internal rotation at the hip, adduct by bringing both of your heels as close together as possible.
  • Control the abduction to the point where tension still remains in the band, and then repeat!
  • This movement should be steady and controlled, and should only come from the adductors. There should be no flexion/bend of the knees or hips, and avoid any inversion or eversion of the ankle.

[vimeo]https://vimeo.com/100737003[/vimeo]Resisted Hip Abduction w/ Dorsiflexion and Neutral Hip Position

Purpose:
Further developing the knees forward, toes forward alignment demand of the athletic position and challenging with a lateral resistance. The neutral foot position also recruits the Big 6 and has them stabilize the hip with an Isometric hold. This foot position also does not recruit the Gluteus Maximus, forcing the stabilizers and Big 6 to be targeted and strengthened.

Execution:

  • Attach the bands on the INSIDE hooks. Lie flat on your back, lock your quads and dorsiflex your feet.
  • Think Deadbug on the ground, paint your lower back on the ground and suck your belly button through your spine.
  • Maintaining dorsiflexion, externally rotate at the hips until feet are NEUTRAL, pointing to the sky, and begin at the point where there is tension in the band.
  • Maintaining both dorsiflexion and neutral foot position, abduct by bringing both of your heels as far away from one another as possible.
  • Control the adduction to the point where tension still remains in the band, and then repeat!
  • This movement should be steady and controlled, and should only come from the abductors, minus the gluteus maximus. You’ll know when that big ass muscle is firing, don’t let it. There should be no flexion/bend of the knees or hips, and avoid any inversion or eversion of the ankle.

Implementation

These movements are not easy, you will have to fight to maintain position.  And just as introducing any other new movements into your training, you will be sore in muscles you didn’t know existed!  Introduce these at the end of your training sessions on your next cycle of Field Strong, and give your body an opportunity to isolate these stabilizers without affecting the program.  Once stability and a mind muscle connection is established, it will then be time to put these into your warm ups for squat, change of direction, or any days you feel you need to prime and get these adductors, abductors and ankles for firing prior to the training day.

Begin with Iso-Stability holds in dorsiflexion and the max ROM possible with proper position. Once this stability is establish introduce force production and force reduction through controlled concentric and eccentric reps through the full ROM. Force reduction and protective force are the primary job of these stabilizers in the hip, but we need to establish the ability to hold the proper position before getting into reps and sets.

Begin each of these with 3x Max Hold and hold yourself to a high standard of position. Once you’re able to hold for more than :30 in a full ROM, begin to work into timed sets of reps.

Ignoring limiting factors leads to imbalances, and imbalances lead to injuries. What is your limiting factor?
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AUTHOR

Christopher McQuilkin

MS, CSCS, SCCC, CHES
Book a consult with me regarding coaching, training, life, education... anything your heart desires. Click below:
calendly.com/pahq-tex

Former collegiate lacrosse defensive midfielder, 4-year letter winner and 3-year team captain. Coached strength and conditioning collegiately with Georgetown University football, Men's and Women's lacrosse and Women's Crew, as well with the University of Texas at Austin's football program. Apprenticed under Raphael Ruiz of 1-FortyFour-1 studying proper implementation of science based, performance driven training systems. Head coached CrossFit Dupont's program for two years in Washington D.C. Received a Master's in Health Promotion Management from Marymount University in 2010, and has been a coach for Power Athlete since October, 2012.

11 Comments

  1. Muzz on July 14, 2014 at 7:44 pm

    Tex what brand if brand of band are you using with the board?

  2. Jason Gonzales on July 14, 2014 at 8:36 pm

    Great article. Luke should do 50 athletic burpees for his poor ball security.

  3. Al Seredick on July 14, 2014 at 9:50 pm

    Would something like the Rogue Shorty Monster Bands Work? If so, how much resistance should we be looking for on these movements?

    • Tex McQuilkin on July 15, 2014 at 6:23 am

      The Rogue Shorty Bands are bold starting point. I have the black and the green and struggled to deliver quality demos, so had to go overpay for a band pack from Dick’s. If you look close, these are two different resistances.

      I highly recommend the Perform Better Mini Exercise Bands found here (click)
      Get a range of resistances that will allow you to progress steadily. Don’t just jump on the ‘Extra Heavy’, get 2-3 tensions that you can perfectly execute and build off of. Going too heavy to start and never targeting your stabilizers will be a mistake.

  4. Paula on July 15, 2014 at 9:54 am

    @Tex Ok, if I get my husband to build one of those boards, then faithfully do the above prescribed exercises will my squat 1rm increase and my legs grow?

  5. Tex McQuilkin on July 15, 2014 at 6:52 pm

    @SheBeast,
    I guarantee it!
    This is an easy project for him, I’ve seen all he has built for CFJaguar. Task him with 10 boards for your athletes, and they will have the strongest hips in all of Tampa.

  6. Al Seredick on July 15, 2014 at 6:57 pm

    Thanks for the advice, @Tex.

  7. Oren H on July 19, 2014 at 8:22 pm

    Hey Tex, can you provide a link or some guidance on exercise demos for the 4-way physio board? Thanks a lot.

  8. Tex McQuilkin on July 20, 2014 at 7:34 am

    Oren,
    Movement demos and guidelines are included in the full article which is available for Essential and Professional Power Athlete members. More information can be found here: https://powerathletehq.com/membership/

  9. Andrew Keimig on July 21, 2014 at 6:29 am

    @Mcquilkin I’m intrigued by this concept of overloading the sagittal plane in exercise selection. When I go through the movements stressed in the PA and FS programing in my head, they all seem to be sagtital plane dominant exercises (squat, DL, box jump, snatch, clean, overhead press, KB swing, captain morgans, GHD). Is it correct to assume that the warm up (e.g. high knee lunge to druken step, lunge to horizontal rotation) and iso-stability exercises are picked to challenge athletes out of the traditional sagittal plane? What other types of training modifications or considerations (outside of the things listed in the article) would you list as important in terms of not overloading the sagittal plane?

  10. Rukas on January 14, 2015 at 1:30 pm

    @mcquilkin

    I can no longer see some of the videos as its asking for a vimeo password to watch it.

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